MORGANTON, N.C. — A screenshot posted to Facebook on Sunday show two men joking about shooting attendees at Burke Pride in Morganton, North Carolina.
“Faggot fest going on in Morganton today,” reads a status posted on Saturday by Scott Bumbgarner, Sr.
Kenny Aytes then comments, “Target practice,” to which Bumgarner replies, “Yes sir.”
“What they are doing is wrong but God loves them the same as he loves yall (sic),” adds Janie Presnell.
“Yes but they need to go back to the closet,” Bumgarner responds.
“Amen,” Alice Smith says.
The post was reported and has since been removed.
A call to the Sheriff’s office to see if they were aware of these threats was unsuccessful as they are closed for Labor Day. We will continue to follow this story with updates when and if they become available.
This year’s event was the first ever Burke Pride and organizers say over 400 people attended.
Update (9/6 7:45 p.m.) – The News-Herald reports Sheriff Steve Whisenant said he was not personally aware of the Facebook thread, but that there is a lot of grey area when it comes to online threats. He said the District Attorney’s Office would need to determine the legal ramifications for the post.
Kenny Aytes has commented on qnotes Facebook post of this article apologizing for his comment, writing that he “meant no harm to anyone” and that he would not do it again.
Seth Loven, president of LGBT Burke, reports a protester hit his car with a sign, that some of their children threw sticks at event-goers, that someone stole a sign from his car and that someone left a note on his car reading, “You die.”
He said he was afraid but will not stop organizing and being a positive voice for the LGBT community.
Update 2 (9/6 9:45 p.m.) – The News-Herald reports getting through to Bumgarner, Aytes and Smith, who have expounded on their comments, noting some regret while also doubling down on their opposition to the LGBT community.
“I don’t condone what went on Saturday,” Bumgarner told them. “But I don’t believe in violence one single bit. If I ever met Mr. Loven (Seth Loven, president of LGBT Burke), I’d tell him that I don’t agree with what he does, but I’d pray for him. God loves him and so do I.”
He added that he wept when he heard of the shooting in Orlando, adding, “I like to think those 49 people didn’t die instantly. I hope they had time to get right with God.”
“I do apologize for the things that was put in there,” he said of the comments on Facebook.
“I regret that I ever made that comment,” he added. “It wasn’t right at all, and I will not ever do it again. My days on social media are numbered.”
Bumgarner said he felt he couldn’t freely express himself and his views, including opposing LGBT pride events.
“I’m sorry, but I’m not gonna bow down to it either,” he said.
“I don’t believe in violence,” Smith said. “It’s wrong and not right. It’s their choice all we can do as Christians is to pray for them.”
“I just casually responded to a post on my friend’s page,” Aytes said. “We’re both members of the NRA. Maybe I meant we was going to go to target practice at his house.”
“That was Orlando. This is North Carolina,” he said, when asked about the shooting at Pulse. “I have to worry about somebody being in the bathroom with my wife or my grandkids. And I have the right to defend against that.”